What is Mesothelioma Cancer?
Malignant mesothelioma is an uncommon medical condition that develops from the transformation of cells in the mesothelium–a protective layer of cells that shields the heart, abdomen and lungs. The majority of mesothelioma cases result from prolonged asbestos exposure. When unbroken asbestos poses a minimal threat to people; however, when disturbed, the mineral releases cancerous particles into the air. When these fibers are perpetually inhaled they congregate in the mesothelium and eventually eat-away at the protective lining. As the cancer evolves it proliferates to remote areas of the body, forming deadly tumors along the way.
Mesothelioma prognosis is extraordinarily bleak; the cancer takes the life of nearly everyone who is infected by it. The average life expectancy for a mesothelioma sufferer is 4 to 18 months after diagnosis. These grim statistics are attributed to diagnostic complications—the disease is rarely detected in its earliest stages or when it is deemed curable.
Diagnostic complications stem from mesothelioma’s slow-developing symptoms and innocuous cellular structure. In most cases, a mesothelioma sufferer will not observe symptoms 25-50 years after their first exposure to asbestos. When symptoms are rendered discernible, the disease has already proliferated to the point where it becomes inoperable. When malignant mesothelioma advances into its latter stages, only palliative treatment options are available. These methods are administered to mitigate malignant mesothelioma’s insufferable symptoms. Palliative treatment is elective and is undertaken to bolster the mesothelioma patient’s life. The disease, if not discovered in its infancy, is incurable.
Stages of Mesothelioma Cancer:
Stage I: Mesothelioma cancer, in its infancy, features a localized tumor commonly found in the lining of the lungs, the diaphragm, or the sac surrounding the heart. 1st stage mesothelioma diagnosis is extremely rare. Those lucky enough to secure early detection are typically ruled eligible for curative operations to extract the cancer from the body. The availability of these operations is dependent on the patient’s general health.
Stage II: When mesothelioma cancer transitions into its second stage the cancer has metastasized past the point of origin. Second stage mesothelioma cancer is frequently observed in the lymph nodes or chest cavity. Curative surgical procedures may be undertaken in this stage, but in general, only palliative options are administered. Because of the cancer’s proliferation, stage II mesothelioma features a far more pessimistic prognosis than the stage prior.
Stage III: Mesothelioma diagnosis is most common in the cancer’s third stage. The reason for widespread diagnosis is that Stage II mesothelioma cancer features tangible symptoms. Stage III mesothelioma cancer, may be observed in the heart, mediastinum, the lining of the peritoneum or in the diaphragm and the chest wall. This form of mesothelioma cancer is attached with a brutal life expectancy, primarily due to severe proliferation. Because widespread spreading, sufferers of Stage III mesothelioma may only receive palliative care; these mesothelioma treatment options are administered to mitigate the symptoms associated with the condition. Palliative treatment is elective and administered to improve the patient’s quality of life.
Stage IV: In its final stage, mesothelioma spreads to remote locations in the body. Because of severe proliferation, stage IV mesothelioma is deemed inoperable. Stage IV mesothelioma symptoms are extremely painful and only palliative treatment may be applied to improve the patient’s quality of life. Stage IV mesothelioma life expectancy decreases to 4 to 18 months.
What are Mesothelioma Settlements?
A mesothelioma settlement refers to a financial package given to an individual who wins a mesothelioma suit. A mesothelioma legal claim or suit is a filing that aims to compensate a mesothelioma patient—and/or the patient’s family—for the costs associated with contracting the disease. More specifically, a mesothelioma settlement is awarded to a mesothelioma victim because the disease was contracted as a result of an employer or entity’s negligence. These claims are often filed against companies or manufacturers who over-expose an individual to asbestos fibers.
The bulk of mesothelioma lawsuits end with the delivery of a mesothelioma settlement. A mesothelioma settlement will typically begin with negotiations, conducted during the suit’s discovery phase. During this phase, the two sides (your mesothelioma lawyer and your employer’s mesothelioma lawyers) come together to discuss the intricacies of your claim, including how you developed the cancer and details concerning your diagnosis, medical history and employment function.
In a mesothelioma settlement, you, as the plaintiff are seeking compensation for the costs associated with the cancer, including the expenses associated with convalescence, pain and suffering and lost wages. While your employer, or the defendant in the mesothelioma claim, typically seek a streamlined resolution. In general, both sides want to exclude the courts from hearing the mesothelioma claim. Fighting an asbestos-related suit is costly and time-consuming; the inclusion of a court necessitates the delivery of exorbitant legal and court fees, as well as the uncertainty of a state-delivered verdict.
How much is My Mesothelioma Settlement Worth?
Mesothelioma settlements will range from moderate sums to incredibly large amounts of financial compensation. Because the majority of mesothelioma settlements are not disclosed to the public, it is helpful to observe some of the bigger mesothelioma settlements. Some of the highest mesothelioma settlements in United States history are as follows:
• $250 million was awarded to Roby Whittington from U.S. Steel after the man was diagnosed with stage-4 malignant mesothelioma
• $33.7 million was awarded to the wife of a California mesothelioma victim from the Foster Wheeler Corporation. This mesothelioma settlement was delivered as part of a mesothelioma wrongful death suit.
Not all mesothelioma suits result in the delivery of such high mesothelioma settlements. In fact, the bulk of mesothelioma settlements are elastic to the sufferer’s medical expenses, lost wages and other costs that arise from fighting the cancer. Mesothelioma settlements are also attached to the evidence/facts of the claim. For example, a mesothelioma settlement will drastically increase if a company knowingly over-exposed an employee to asbestos or was negligent in adhering to the jurisdictions’ asbestos regulations. In these types of mesothelioma cases, the exposed employee may be capable of securing multi-million dollar mesothelioma settlements. Your ability to secure a large mesothelioma settlement depends on the facts of your case and your state’s civil laws.
The Mesothelioma Settlement Process:
The mesothelioma settlement process begins with a formal diagnosis. To file a mesothelioma claim you must secure a formal diagnosis from a licensed medical doctor in your state. Failure to attain a diagnosis will result in an inability to file a claim. Once a diagnosis is secured you must consult with a mesothelioma lawyer to discuss the facts of your case. Once facts are exchanged the mesothelioma lawyer will decide on whether your case is worth pursuing. If the legal professional thinks you have a chance of securing a mesothelioma settlement, he/she will typically represent you. The bulk of mesothelioma lawyers operate under a contingency fee—they are paid a percentage of your mesothelioma settlement if one is secured.
When your mesothelioma claim is filed, your employer (or the defendant in the claim) will typically offer an amount much lower than what it can feasibly pay or what you were anticipating. You most likely will choose to hold out and threaten legal action if the amount is deemed a slap in the face. If negotiations prove futile, the defendant will continue to lowball you, until the claim reaches trial. If a mesothelioma settlement is not affirmed before trial, an additional offer may be made during litigation. It must be known; however, that the majority of mesothelioma claims are settled before trial. The primary reason why a defendant will settle prior to trial is that they will realize the exposed or manufactured the asbestos product and as a result will be ruled liable for the patient’s disease.
Mesothelioma settlements are typically affirmed out of court when the defendant realizes it cannot win the case. Some of the primary reasons why a defendant will settle:
• The defendant, following the discovery phase, realizes that your case is strong in determining negligence or recklessness concerning a refusal to follow asbestos regulations or protocol
• The defendant, following the discovery phase, realizes that compelling depositions were secured by the plaintiff
• There is a lack of time to complete necessary research before the claim goes to trial
• Mounting legal fees
• The defendant does not want to deal with the uncertainty of trial. A jury or judge may side with the plaintiff for a sum that is well beyond the amount proposed in the mesothelioma settlement
• Sudden unavailability of key or expert witnesses needed to win the mesothelioma case
The process of securing a mesothelioma settlement out of court will typically necessitate the inclusion of your employer’s insurance company. As part of your mesothelioma settlement, the defendant may or may not admit responsibility for your disease. All of these details will all be a part of your mesothelioma settlement process.
Mesothelioma Attorneys and their Fees:
You must keep in mind that your mesothelioma lawyer will receive a percentage of your mesothelioma settlement if one is secured. The percentage of the settlement will vary if you negotiate an award rather than win one through litigation. When determining the minimum acceptable amount of a mesothelioma settlement, you should account for the percentage that your mesothelioma attorney is entitled to. These percentages are calculated during your consultation or at the beginning of the case. Your mesothelioma lawyer will not charge any fee until the case is finalized and you have received financial compensation. You will likely receive your mesothelioma settlement in periodic installments rather than in a lump sum.